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Obama appeals to Muslims for support, as Ottawa calls out radical Islam

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Islamic jihadis have “declared war on Canada and its allies,” posing a grave threat and justifying sweeping new surveillance of terrorist suspects, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney said Wednesday as he headed to a summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on countering violent extremism.

Mr. Obama has sought to avoid stigmatizing Islam and drawn fire from critics for his refusal to finger any religion. But Mr. Blaney was blunt and direct in accusing radical Islam as the fundamental threat.

“Canadians are being targeted by jihadi terrorists simply because these terrorists hate our society and the values it represents,” Mr. Blaney said, using the Arab word for struggle found in the Koran which – in modern political Islam – has become inextricably associated with groups like Islamic State.

In Washington, the focus of the three-day conclave was on measures to avoid disaffected youth from being lured into extremism and new outreach efforts to engage religious and community leaders in an effort to address the alienation of those susceptible to violent extremism.

In his keynote speech Wednesday, Mr. Obama stressed the importance of taking the long view and winning the battle for hearts and minds, not just seeking military victory on the battlefield.

He appealed directly to prominent Muslims to do more to distance themselves from brutal ideologies and to foster relationships with young Muslims who are particularly susceptible to extremist propaganda.

“Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the narrative from Islamist militants that Western nations are in a war against Islam.

Youth workers, lawmakers and police chiefs from dozens of countries gathered in Washington for the summit, as well as senior intelligence and security-service officials. The aim was to swap ideas as part of an international outreach effort to counter the now-proven ability of extremist groups to use social media to find, indoctrinate and radicalize individuals.

“There will be a military component to this,” said Mr. Obama, who has launched an air war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and turned to drones armed with Hellfire missiles to target al-Qaeda and other extremist leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. “There are savage cruelties going on out there that have to be stopped,” he added, referring to the beheading and immolation of hostages that have revulsed the world in recent months.

But Mr. Obama spent most of his White House speech to focus on a need that he said was greater than military force. “We are not at war with Islam,” he said to applause. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.

He said “no religion is responsible for terrorism,” and told the gathering that the international community needs to “address the grievances that the terrorists exploit” including widespread feeling of injustice and oppression in much of the Muslim world.

And Mr. Obama warned “it will take time, this is a generational challenge.”

Parallel to the summit on Countering Violent Extremism, the United States is also hosting a ministerial-level meeting intended to improve information sharing to identify, monitor and track radical suspects, especially as they move to and return from combat zones.

Canada along with Albania, Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Indonesia, INTERPOL, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations are represented.

Mr. Blaney said new measures proposed by the Conservative government in Ottawa will give “security agencies and front-line police the tools they need to protect Canadians against the ever evolving threat of terrorism,” adding they will help “prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups to commit acts of terrorism.”

Mr. Obama’s view that the struggle against radical extremism will be a long one and his effort to enlist the Muslim community has drawn fire from some hawks who want a much tougher crackdown at home and more military action abroad.

Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that instead of Mr. Obama simply making speeches, he wanted “the President to overhaul his strategy and to develop a bold, actionable plan to confront violent Islamist extremism worldwide and to immediately staunch the flow of fighters.”

The President has taken a far more inclusive stance. With “al-Qaeda and ISIL [another name for the Islamic State group] peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam, all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans,” he said in an op-ed published on Wednesday. “This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

With a report from Reuters

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President Mohamud Asks Int´l Partners To Help Somalia Avert Looming Famine & Defeat Scourge Of Al-Shabaab.

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Waxaa Qoray

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud delivered his inaugural speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Thursday, September 22.

In his speech, the head of state said despite efforts to move past decades of drought and conflict, Somalia is facing some of the most complex crises in the world, urging international partners to help the nation avert a looming famine and defeat the scourge of terrorism.

“In Somalia, we are working tirelessly to transition from over two decades of devastating conflict, drought, famine and developmental stagnation to a new age of stability, progress and prosperity. However, despite our continuing efforts, Somalia and its resilient people are facing some of the most complex and interconnected crises in the world,” President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told the annual General Debate.

The crises, he added, included ongoing regional drought, which directly threaten the lives and livelihoods of Somali’s most vulnerable communities.

In a new report issued just yesterday, the UN warned that hundreds of thousands in Somalia are already facing starvation with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under five. This is the third time in 10 years that Somalia has been threatened with a devastating famine.

The President called on Somalia’s partners to do everything possible to help avert a looming famine, which also threatens the wider Horn of Africa region.

“We urge all our partners to heed our call and work with us to provide immediate support and relief to the most affected communities.

“In the long term, we must collectively work together to ensure that we mitigate the acceleration of the dangerous and costly climate crisis by meeting the commitment to invest in and adequately finance climate adaptation in the most affected and vulnerable regions of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa,” he added.

He cited key areas of investment, including sustainable water management, biodiversity protection, enhanced food security, climate-smart agriculture, resilient infrastructure and investment in renewable energy.;

Somalia has for the first time established a new ministry of environment and climate change to lead the process of urgently addressing the devastating impact of environmental degradation.

“We know that climate change is real, and we are living with the evidence of its painful and destructive reality today. We also know that Somalia, and the rest of the world, cannot develop sustainably without the global climate crisis being jointly addressed quickly and effectively.”

Towards eliminating terrorism

President Mohamud cited that Somali people organically raised up to support their government in the fight against Al-Shabaab.

At the same time, Somalia is tackling the “persistent and complex challenge” of terrorism, which he said both contributes to and exacerbates all other crises, including food insecurity, the displacement of people from their homes and climate change.

He noted that in addition to the efforts carried out by the Somali Federal Government, the Somali people have begun to rise up to defeat the evils of terror, helping to retake villages and towns in recent months.

“We are now confident that with enhanced public support our Government will eliminate terrorism from Somalia.”

He added that the Somali Government will continue to work with all its partners, including the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, in the fight against global terrorism.

“We are fully committed to doing the heavy lifting to secure our future.”

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Somali Government signs UPEACE Charter, opening new opportunities for Somalis

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Waxaa Qoray

The UN University for peace marked another historical achievement following the signing of the instrument of accession by Somali President Dr Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The move means that the Somali Government has officially endorsed the UPEACE Charter and is expected to implement it.

Reacting to the news, the University’s country representative Dr Mohamed Osman said the decision by the president is a welcome news.

“This is highly welcome news, and it puts the university’s Somalia branch at the same level with the rest of the countries that have signed the charter,” said Dr Mohamed

“The students will also benefit from various scholarships offered by the institution”, added Dr Mohamed.

From Right: Upeace Somalia Country representative Dr Mohamed Osman, Somalia’s President H.E  Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, UPEACE Regional Director Programme, Professor Samuel Kale Ewusi,  , and Chief of Staff Office of The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia Dr. Hussein Sheikh

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (centre), having a light moment with Dr Juan Carlos, Global Dean of Upeace. With him is Chief of Staff Office of The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia Dr. Hussein Sheikh Mohamud

Somalia’s President Dr Hassan Sheikh Mohamed signed the instrument of accession while attending the 77th UN General Assembly, making Somalia the 42nd country to sign the charter, which was born out of UN General Assembly Resolution 35/55 of 5th December 1980 which established the University for Peace with Headquarters in Costa Rica and Regional Programmes in Africa (Ethiopia), Europe (Netherlands) Asia (China), South East Asia (Philippines), and in South America (Honduras).

A map showing Upeace Regional Offices

A few years ago, the University was welcomed in Somalia after it started offering its courses. Before that, Somali students used to travel to Costa Rica and to the neighbouring country, Ethiopia, where the University has its Africa Regional campus for the continent.

“The signing of the UPEACE Charter by the president is yet another huge step for the university and we hope it opens doors for expansion in Somalia and for many students to enroll into the courses offered by the university” said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, UPEACE Somalia Country Director.

Dr Juan Carlos, Global Dean of Upeace (center) posing a picture with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ambassador Narinder Kakar, Permanent Observer of the University for Peace to the United Nations at the 77th UN General Assembly.

The establishment of the university in Costa Rica, a country in Central America, played a pivotal role in establishing the first base for the University. In Africa, the University established its Africa Regional Programme in  2002 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which opened doors to thousands of African students keen on pursuing courses related to peace, security and development.

Many of the graduates are now using the knowledge gained to build peace and help support their communities. In August 2018, Upeace established its first campus in Mogadishu, Somalia University’s first batch of students for Master’s and PhD Programs.

UPEACE will be organizing its next graduation ceremony in Somalia at the end of October 2022 with more than a hundred Masters and at least 10 doctoral students expected to receive their Degrees.

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Somaliland Head To Polls For Councillors And MPs On May 31, 2021 Last updated May 31, 2021

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Waxaa Qoray

Voters in the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland are heading to the polls on May, 31 to choose their member of parliament for the first time since 2005.

Somaliland broke off from mainland Somalia after the regime of Siad Barre in 1991.

The 5.2 Million citizens of Somaliland will be making yet another stab at global recognition as some 1.3 million voters head to the polls to choose 82 members of parliament and 247 local councils.

An election whose measure of democracy Somaliland hopes to use in its quest to certify its sovereignty.

Somaliland’s three political parties in the polls are opposition politicians Faisal Warabe’s UCID, Wadani led by another opposition leader Abdirahman Erye and President Muse Bihi Kulmiye party.

The elections is observed by over a hundred international observers including Uganda’s former opposition leader, Kizza Besigye and ex-president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Korma.

”Our visit to the headquarters of the Somaliland National Electoral Commission left us with a good impression about the Commission’s preparedness to conduct peaceful and credible elections,” said in a Twitter post.

The elections are taking place in six regions of Somaliland, namely Awdal, Sahil, Marodi-Jeeh, Toghdeer, Sanaag and Sool.

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